A new week has gone by and more backgrounds have been produced! :)

This time, let’s start off with the various variations of the final Arcade Mode background we showed a first version of last week:

Our favourites here are the bottom right one and bottom mid one – we haven’t quite decided which one to pick yet!

Work on the backgrounds for when you finish the puzzles continue as well. Though we showed a bunch of suggestions last week, we ended up picking a version we didn’t even feature in the post! Here it is:

I also started working on a background for the next puzzle. Here’s my first experiment, as well as a video showing it in action:

We’re going to add some more details to this as well, so it’s not quite final yet. This type of workflow, creating a basic version of something first and adding more details once the first concept has been approved is a very common strategy in game development, one we use a lot as well (as you can tell)! This way we don’t end up wasting too much time on something that will be scrapped anyway, and everyone gets to have a part in suggesting details and improvements.

Another background I’ve been working on is the backdrop for the final battle against Zhamla. For this, we currently have three suggestions:

Our favourite among these is the middle one, though we may end up with a merge between the middle and right ones!

Now, as for Teddy and Fred: Teddy continues working on adding multiplayer to the dungeon. Right now, it should work for the whole elevator trip / boss rush and the puzzle floor, and he’s currently working on making it work in the battle against Dad. There were some issues fitting all of the summons on the elevator in some of the cutscenes if you were a party of four with many summoners, but we’ve managed to find a solution that works alright (essentially hiding the summons during these cutscenes).

Fred’s focus has been making animations for Zhamla and his attacks. The bigger the subject, the more difficult the animations are to get right:

Something that’s just a little bit smaller are these lovely flying beasts that will serve as Zhamlas insect swarm! Here’s a bunch of design iterations, as well as an animation of the finished thing:

Enjoy your week, and let’s keep working! :D

Fred here! With Vilya being very busy with moving houses still, I’m filling in to keep the blog posts rolling. I was actually supposed to fill in for her last week as well buuut, I kinda forgot. Learning on the job 8)

Diving right into it; Teddy has done a ton of work for the final cutscene this week. For starters, adding and timing all of the music our lovely musician Riley has been sending us for the past month. It’s 9 tracks in total for the entire sequence of scenes and, you guys, it’s going to be epic! The music adds so much, it’s always such a cool experience hearing a scene with music for the first time. Especially in this case when it’s such a massive cutscene that we have been tinkering with for such a long time. If I can figure it out, I could add a track or two for you people to listen to. Might save that technical venture for next week tho ;D

Besides music, a lot of time has been spent adding multiplayer versions of the cutscenes. This means making every player have their own unique reactions, timings and positions during multiplayer. We don’t want every player to just feel like they’re a copy of the player hosting the server. It adds a lot of monotonous and tiresome work, rewatching and debugging cutscenes in different multiplayer setups. In the end, it’s worth it tho, even if it feels like a minor detail at first glance.

Worth it!

Besides all of this “hard to show on the blog”-stuff, we’re still swinging away at good ol’ Zhamla. One move from his original encounter in Tai-Ming that we all really like is his Dash Slash! It looks cool, has a lot of agility and speed to it and it just fits Zhamla’s combat style very well.

The only problem with it is that it’s not too challenging at this stage of the game. It’s not totally useless, but compared to the rest of his arsenal, it leaves you wanting more. So we tried to figure out a way to spice it up a bit while keeping the spirit of the original:

Since we tinkered with some Shadow Clone-stuff the other week, we stayed on the theme. The clones add a decent amount of difficulty while keeping the feeling of the original attack. He still has access to the “vanilla” version of the attack during the final battle, and will mix it up as he sees fit!

At this point, we’ve reached a stage with Zhamla where, in terms of his moveset and attacks, we are feeling pretty satisfied actually! He’s got a wide variety of moves, he’s fun and very challenging to play against (at least for me ;D) so I dunno… This could potentially be the final prototype of a move we show here on the blog! This does not mean the battle is finished tho, there are still a ton of adjustments needed and graphics and polish that are missing. Knowing us we’ll probably end up squeezing in one extra move or two as well, but still! Feels exciting that it’s starting to come together :)

We’ve mostly shown you Zhamla’s attacks separately, so I’m finishing this post off with a short video of him chaining some of his moves together. Can’t wait for you people to get destroyed by him the way I have during testing <3

Picking up from last week; we are starting to feel very optimistic about our refining of Zhamla’s normal attacks. They are much more fun to deal with, they feel more varied and they’ve solved some of the clarity issues we had before. 

The only downside to all this positivity is that Fred has a bunch of new animations to tackle. Zhamla poses two normal attacks in all three directions (it’s technically four, but the left/right is just a mirrored version of each other) with the ability to finish his attack pattern with either of them. This means Fred needs to create 6 unique “Hey, I’m open for attack now!”-animations to indicate to the player when it’s time to fire back at Zhamla. It might seem a bit excessive but in the end, we feel it will be worth it. Zhamla deserves that extra bit of polish only reserved for the finalist of final bosses!

So, while Fred is busy with that, Teddy has put together some prototypes for some new potential attacks for the King of Collecting!

First up, we have another take on screen-wide fire move. As with most attacks like this one, its main purpose is to give the player a change of pace more than being overly difficult. Since the area of attack is so massive, we want to make sure players have ample time to react properly.

For the other attack, we went with another element: Lightning, with a touch of rain!

The first iteration of the attack both looked and felt a bit overwhelming during the testing, so Teddy did what he does best and cranked it up a notch:

Much better! Once again not the most difficult or threatening attack on its own, but it can easily be combined with other patterns and combos to add a bit more spice where we feel it’s needed.
Visually there’s still more to be desired, Fred has already been tinkering away with some suggestions:

The idea is to have a more pronounced lightning effect in the middle, surrounded by a bunch of smaller bolts. We’ll see how it turns out next week :)   

Back at it again with more Zhamla shenanigans! Last week I mentioned we were tinkering with adding one more sword-based attack to his arsenal and this is the result:

We based this attack on the elite version of Echo of Madness from Tai Ming. On one hand, because it felt like just the type of intimate and Perfect Guard-focused attack we were looking for gameplay-wise and on the other hand, it’s also a nice little visual connection between Zhamla and the Echo’s.

The graphics are still in the very early stages of polish, there’s still some clarity and size issues with all of Zhamla’s shadows bunched together, but nothing that a few coats of animation won’t fix!

Another focus this week has been to give the players more visual feedback for when Zhamla is open to be attacked. Since he is so hectic and agile in his playstyle, we feel it’s more important than usual to make sure players know when they can inflict damage and not get taken by surprise by Zhamla.

Fred whipped up this animation (the above one) as a test for when Zhamla leaves himself vulnerable after one of his normal attacks:

While still rough around the edges, it’s still more than enough to give the intended effect during testing. After some time spent in Teddy’s workshop, here it is in the game:

And another iteration with some more visual feedback added into the mix:

The added effects bring a bit more oomph to it, which I personally like. The flames were put there as a placeholder, but I dunno. It kinda works! We will keep experimenting and pushing it further, but just this simple test feels very promising so far :)

So… last week I was supposed to post a recap saying we went on a short Halloween-break, but forgot to post it since we were having said break!

Now we’re back, so here’s “last week’s post”, and we’ll continue to post like normal from here :)

Now, it’s not just the ending of Arcade Mode that we’re working on, but also expanding it and cleaning it up so it’s all nice and polished. In this Monday’s meeting, we came up with two new rooms we’d like to try:

First up, a room where you meet the fortune teller Astrid, who tells you which boss is at the end of the floor, and offers you an opportunity to change your fate (that is, for her to change the boss for another one in the pool). Whether or not this will cost you anything we haven’t decided yet – but it’s likely it’ll cost a bit of gold.

The second room we’d like to add is a “Caveling Casino” where you pay gold OR essence for a chance of getting one of a pool of items, which you’ll be able to see beforehand. The items can be things such as equips, buffs, pins, HP pots, or maybe just an apple… We’re considering giving you two chances as well, so if you spent gold on one try, you can spend essence on another – but no more than that.

This addition of essence as a currency on a run is something we’ll likely experiment a bit more with as well, giving you more ways to spend that stuff :)

Finally, we’ve decided to try out a pretty big change – but I’ll have to make a couple tests first to make sure it feels alright… And that is to have each of the shops and special character’s rooms in a run appear inside a specially designed map just for them instead of having them sit in the middle of an ordinary room. So basically the merchant would actually appear in a shop, shadier merchant might appear in a creepy temple like setting, and so on. However, since we don’t want to give away what kind of room you’ll enter in the case of event rooms, I’m gonna have to play around with making an entrance to the house which makes it feel like you came from the outside even though you as a player didn’t see an actual building to enter. It may not make much sense now, but I’ll make a couple tests and you’ll see!

We’ve also been discussing what sort of rewards you’ll get from that chest in the final room before battling either Bishop or Grindea! We want the player to get plenty of rewards, at least three for each level of difficulty, so it won’t just be a reward for the first time you reach the top!

Some of our suggestions so far include:

A diploma that shows you made it. Can be hung on the wall of your house, where it can be inspected showing a proper fancy diploma stating you reached the top floor.

A lood trinket that allows you to keep a Lood with you on your runs.

A Record player which is a furniture item that will change the music inside your house.

Riley as a NPC in Arcadia, who can change the music both in Arcadia and on your runs.

Angel Wings and Demon Wings to decorate your character. We’ll have to try out how this looks with the character’s animations, but if it doesn’t work out we’ll add them as hat versions instead.

A trinket that makes you character levitate when moving and in idle.

A trinket that gives you the same colour scheme as Grindea

and a Cloud hat!

…in no particular order. Do you have any suggestions of your own? We’d love to hear them!

Next up, it’s time to start looking into giving Grindea a proper background instead of the placeholder flying fortress platform she’s currently on! In this sketch, I’m playing around with some aesthethics, trying to give her a place that feels fully her own.

What do you guys think?

 As mentioned before, we wanted to be able to include some indoor areas without having you pass through an actual building first, so I’ve made a little test featuring what it could look like entering a building from Seasonne in this case:

In this example, you’d be in a regular arcade mode Seasonne room, and expect to enter an event room to the right. Instead of going into another outdoor room, you end up in this house instead. Do you think the transition will feel weird seeing as there is no building to enter? We hope that by adding part of the outdoorsy area in the entrance it’ll feel more like you seamlessly transitioned between the two rooms :)

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s all about Grindea, as has been for a while now! Let’s have a look at the most recent animations:

Alright then, we had one final floor to properly design for the final dungeon, and it’s the Dragonbone Dunes floor! As such, we had a little meeting, discussing where we want to take it, seeing as there’s a ton of stuff going on in the desert that we could use.

In the end, we came up with a plan that’s pretty much as follows:

You’ll start off by following a little pathway to the side from where you entered, after which you’ll reach a door that seems to lead to the next floor. However, once you’re about to exit, that massive boulder from your encounter with the Solgem boss appears, forcing you to run down for quite a bit. Now super far away from the exit, you need to find your way back by entering a series of caves where you’ll come across several different challenges:

* One battle challenge where a ruby similar to the one that cursed the Solgem, only it curses each of the other enemy types found in the desert in turn

* One story puzzle where you have to push around statues featuring Bishop, Grindea, Cards and Adventurers… Whatever could it mean?

* One or several math puzzles (not too difficult, since you need to solve them in order to complete Story Mode…)

* A digging challenge where you need to dig up something to allow you to pass through the next door

Not sure we’ll include all of these, but we’re fairly certain on the first two, and we’ll probably want to add at least one of the other two as well! As you can tell, this floor will be a bit longer than the others probably, but seeing as it’s towards the end of the dungeon and each of these challenges won’t take too long, we think that’s alright!


In other news, here are the game’s final four haircut! These will be the last ones needed to finally fill out each slot available! Phew! Let’s have a look at the new styles you can choose from:

While it’s true we’ve been designing on floors as far up as the Desert, it’s not the same as making art for them! Now it’s time for the first part of making that final dungeon Flying Fortress floor!

In this part, I’m gonna clean up the island after it’s been adjusted to its GUN-D4M size, giving it some proper art rather than the temporary sketch version:

 Meanwhile, the Grindea battle continues on evolving, so here’s another bunch of new moves:

Pretty intense stuff! You gotta watch where you put those feet!

And here’s a few more of Fred’s animations for this boss! A lot of Grindea stuff right now, but it’s also one of the most important battles of the game, so it makes sense :)

Time for the second map of the cave system in Pillar Mountains, accessible by climbing the sapling you’ve all been walking past for years now, wondering when you’ll be able to do something about it…. Well, soon it’ll all be happening ;)

And then another version of the previous map, as you climb higher up the pillar:

Finally, we go outdoors, reaching an old abandoned Grindea statue! How curious….

For now though, let’s change the subject to something completely different. Trees! A specific tree, actually. The NPC from Seasonne who you’ll meet in the giant tree stump:

Meanwhile in Fred’s department, it’s all about James Fawke, his fan and of course, the troll fight! Here’s some more sneak peeks:

With the world around us slowly calming down a bit and more and more restrictions being lifted, we have been talking about whether or not to get back into some sort of office. The office hotel we previously used has closed down, but we do have a spare room where we live where we’ve previously housed guests so we’re thinking about turning it into a proper office for the time being.

As such, we made plans to move our desks and computers there as soon as it became available last weekend (Teddy’s mom has been staying over for the last couple months due to the corona virus, but these last couple weeks she’s been intent on moving back to her apartment, which she did on friday).

It’s possible we’ll look into a more permanent office in the future, but before we make any such move we want to see a more permanent decrease in the corona virus havoc that’s been going on. For now, it won’t make much of a difference for the three of us to meet in the office seeing as we don’t really see anyone else anyway, and I think after a couple months working from home it would be good for our motivation to get back to some proper routines and get a proper change of scenery.

Another one of the main topics on our minds lately has been the Pin Collector. Who is he, how will the pins be unlocked and at what part of the game? We’ve decided that he will appear randomly in a room after the player has played a certain amount: not too long, but at least a few runs so that they’re familiar with the way the game works without pins added.

He will appear through a dimension rift which will happen in the midst of a room. Here’s our first prototype of the scene:

Obvious use of placeholders including Marino, of course… haha!

Next, we’ve been playing around with adding some effects to give the impression of the pins scattering away:

This is also still a work in progress! We’re not completely happy with the way the pins literally seem to “scatter like a wind” if you want. We might look into having them scatter from him more like coins from a defeated enemy; or we might keep the effect separate from his appearance altogether. In any case, the testing continues! :)

Two new characters we’re gonna introduce in story mode are part of the fanclub surrounding James Fawkes! Starting off with the fangirl:

And second, that of the fanboy:

These characters will follow James along wherever he appears, cheering him on! Oh my..

And here’s Fred’s renditions of both James and his two fans! We’ve actually decided to add yet another fan to his bunch of followers, but that one will be added next week: